: : Here's something for you about the glorious health care of Canada.
: Frenchy, your link is seriously ill -- I couldn't access it. Here's something for you about the glorious health care of America.
I've been having a lot of problems accessing that same link for some reason. Anyways, here's the story. By the way, if your as fit as a fiddle why are you so incensed over health care?
January 20, 2000 (20:59)
What Universal Health Care Brought the Canadians
by James Brooke
New York Times | January 16, 2000
MONTREALDressed in her orchid-pink bathrobe and blue velour slippers, Édouardine Boucher
perched on her bed at Notre Dame Hospital here on Friday and recounted the story of her
night: electric doors constantly opening and closing by her feet, cold drafts blowing across her
head each time an ambulance arrived in the subzero weather, and a drug addict who started
shouting at 2:30 a.m., "Untie me, untie me."
But as nurses hurried by on Friday morning, no one thought it remarkable that Ms. Boucher, a
58-year-old grandmother awaiting open-heart surgery, had spent a rough night on a gurney in
an emergency-room hallway. After all, other hallways of this three- year-old hospital were lined
with 66 other patients lying quietly on temporary beds.
To explain overflowing hospitals here and across the nation, Canadian health officials are
blaming the annual winter flu epidemic.
But, at the mention of flu, Daniel Brochu, the veteran head nurse here, gave a smirk and ran his
pen down the patient list today: "Heart problem, infection problem, hypertension, dialysis, brain
tumor, two cerebral hemorrhages." On Thursday, he said, crowding was so bad that he was
able to admit one patient only after the ambulance crew agreed to leave its stretcher.
When Canada's state-run health system was in its first bloom, in the 1970s, Americans regularly
trooped up here on inspection tours, attracted by Canada's promise of universal "free" health
care. Today, however, few Canadians would recommend their system as a model for export.
Improving health care should be the federal government's top priority, said 93 percent of 3,000
Canadians interviewed last month by Ekos Research Associates. In another poll last month,
conducted by Pollara, 74 percent of respondents supported the idea of user fees, which have
been outlawed since 1984.
"There is not a day when the newspapers do not talk of the health crisis," said Pierre Gauthier,
president of the Federation of Specialist Doctors of Quebec. "It has become the number-one
problem for Québécois and for Canadians."
In Toronto, Canada's largest city, overcrowding prompted emergency rooms in 23 of the city's
25 hospitals to turn away ambulances one day last week. Two weeks ago, in what one
newspaper later called an "ominous foreshadowing," police officers shot to death a distraught
father who had taken a doctor hostage in a Toronto emergency room in an attempt to speed
treatment for his sick baby.
Further west, in Winnipeg, "hallway medicine" has become so routine that hallway stretcher
locations have permanent numbers. Patients recuperate more slowly in the drafty, noisy
hallways, doctors report.
On the Pacific Coast, ambulances filled with ill patients have repeatedly stacked up this winter
in the parking lot of Vancouver General Hospital. Maureen Whyte, a hospital vice president,
estimates that 20 percent of heart-attack patients who should have treatment within fifteen
minutes now wait an hour or more.
The shortage is a case of supply not keeping up with demand. During the 1990s, after
government deficits ballooned, partly because of rising health costs, the government in Ottawa
cut revenue-sharing payments to provincesby half, by some accounts. Today, the federal
budget is balanced, but seven hospitals in Montreal have been closed, and 44 hospitals in
Ontario have been closed or merged.
Ottawa also largely closed the door to the immigration of foreign doctors and cut the number of
spaces in Canadian medical schools by 20 percent. Today, Canada has one medical school slot
for every 20,000 people, compared with one for 13,000 in the United States and Britain.
With a buyout program, Quebec induced 3,600 nurses and 1,200 doctors to take early
retirement. And across the nation, 6,000 nurses and at least 1,000 doctors have moved to the
United States in recent years.
At the same time, demands on Canada's health system grow every year. Within 30 years, the
population over 65 is expected to double, to 25 percent.
Unable to meet the demand, hospitals now have operation waiting lists stretching for months or
longerfive years in the case of Ms. Boucher.
As a result, Canada has moved informally to a two-tier, public- private system. Although
private practice is limited to dentists and veterinarians, 90 percent of Canadians live within 100
miles of the United States, and many people are crossing the border for private care.
Last summer, as waiting lists for chemotherapy treatments for breast and prostate cancer
stretched to four months, Montreal doctors started to send patients 45 minutes down the
highway to Champlain Valley Physicians' Hospital in Plattsburgh, N.Y. There, scores have
undergone radiation treatment, some being treated by bilingual doctors who left Montreal.
Business has been so good that the Plattsburgh hospital, which was on the verge of closing its
cancer unit, has invested half a million dollars in new equipment. And on the Quebec side, the
program has allowed health authorities to boast that they have cut the list of cancer patients
who have to wait two months or more, to 368 today from 516 last summer.
In Toronto, waiting lists have become so long at the Princess Margaret Hospital, the nation's
largest and most prestigious cancer hospital, that hospital lawyers drew up a waiver last week
for patients to sign, showing that they fully understood the danger of delaying radiation
With the chemotherapy waiting list in British Columbia at 670 people, hospitals in Washington
have started marketing their services to Canadians in Vancouver, a 45-minute drive.
A two-tier system is also being used for other kinds of operations.
"I would like to buy mother a plastic hip for Christmas, so she doesn't have to limp through the
year 2000 in excruciating pain," Margaret Wente, a newspaper columnist for The Globe and Mail
in Toronto, wrote last month. "I could just drive her to Cleveland, which is fast becoming the de
facto hip-replacement capital of Southern Ontario."
Allan Rock, Canada's health minister, disapproves of such attitudes. In an essay in the same
newspaper, he wrote sarcastically: "Forget about equal access. Let people buy their way to
the front of the line."
In defense of Canada's state health system, he wrote, "Its social equity reflects our Canadian
values." Mr. Rock, who hopes to become prime minister one day, said that health delivery could
be improved through better, computerized planning. He attacked a proposal in Alberta to allow
private hospitals, warning readers, "The precedent may be set for American for-profit
health-care providers looking to set up shop in Canada."
But the idea that there may be room in Canada's future for private medicine is gaining ground.
"We have no significant crises in care for our teeth or our animals, largely because dentists and
veterinarians operate in the private sector," Michael Bliss, a medical historian, wrote on
Wednesday in the National Post, a conservative newspaper. "So we have the absurdity in
Canada that you can get faster care for your gum disease than your cancer, and probably more
attentive care for your dog than your grandmother."
In Ontario, Canada's wealthiest province, the waiting list for magnetic resonance imaging tests
is so long that one man recently reserved a session for himself at a private animal hospital that
had a machine. He registered under the name Fido.
To Ms. Boucher, who jealously guarded her fifteen square feet of corridor space today, such
cocktail circuit anecdotes were not amusing. Glumly eating her cold breakfast toast, she said,
"It scares us to get sick."
This sounds MUCH better than our system in the US. I can't wait!